It is an understatement to say that his victory put his team in turmoil. “I purposely didn’t cry for the cameras“, “The dashboard is dead, I typed too much on it“, “We almost triggered the airbags“. HAS the arrival in Epernay, Tuesday July 26, the staff of the FDJ-Suez-Futuroscope was euphoric. HAS a few hundred meters from the finish line Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig has just taken the lead on stage three, the smiles are as wide as the mines were undone on Monday.
The day after a nightmare day, marked in particular by the abandonment of the co-leader Marta Cavalli and the delay taken by the Dane (more than a minute), the tricolor formation finds colors. “We won this stage that we recognized with Cecilie, who is the best puncher in the peloton”, explains Cédric Barre, sports director of the FDJ. The FDJ’s plan had, in fact, been in place for several weeks, and was not turned upside down by the difficulties of Cecilie Ludwig on the Mutigny coast, some 20 kilometers from the finish. The Dane was able to recover to finish with a bang.
“We didn’t panic. We knew that the last difficulty was going to be disputed, and Cecilie saved everything for this last bump. She knew exactly where to put the punch.”Cedric Barre
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“We showed strong character traits. This victory is a great response”. It is also the perfect summary of the personality of the sparkling Dane, who fell on Monday, before getting up in the most beautiful way on Tuesday on the roads of Champagne.
“She’s an incredible, adorable girl. She’s a very great champion”, appreciates the sporting director before moving on. “There is always this uncertainty after a fall, we were a little apprehensive, however we were confident about Cecilie’s characteristics”. The Danish champion is not one to give up. After his galley day on the road to Provins, manager Stephen Delcourt was talking “of a viking who never admits defeat“. Well done. The leader of the FDJ has a strong character. “She’s a rock star, it’s impossible not to smile when you have someone like her on the bus”, assures Delcourt.
After a season truncated by a long Covid, Cecilie Ludwig has turned the page by winning in Epernay. Before that, there had already been a convincing Giro. “She finished sixth having worked the whole race for Marta Cavalli, that’s not bad, isn’t it?”, explained the general manager before the start.
Not the type to hide in the race or in life, the one who likes to DJ and dance on the bus assumes her status as leader of the tricolor team. “She is uninhibited“, assures Delcourt. “She has an incredible joie de vivre. In the hotel, even if she is 300 meters away, I just have to listen to find out where she is.”
Charismatic, the Dane is the type to captivate the audience with each of her speeches, during which she does not mince her words. “She’s not a provocateur, but she goes off the track beaten, underlines Stephen delcourt. I remember an interview in London, where she was asked about the fact that women do not have a finish at the top of mythical passes Cecilie thinks for two seconds and answers: ‘I think they are afraid that my vagina will go down in altitude’. There is a big blank. Then she bursts out laughing. There you go, that’s Cecilie Ludwig.”
With his victory on Tuesday, both Ludwig and his team are revived, while there are 5 stages left to reach another objective: the yellow jersey, and why not the final victory. In the meantime, it’s party time. In the capital of champagne that is Epernay, surrounded by hills, you don’t have to look far to find out the program for the evening of the French team: “Obviously we’re going to celebrate, even if the Tour is still long”promises Cédric Barre“We’re going to drink a small glass of champagne or more tonight.” And maybe check the airbags, anyway.